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Things We Learn From Our Children. Wednesday December 16, 2015

I have a thirteen year old daughter.

Correction. I actually have a thousand year old daughter in a thirteen year old body.

Yes, she's frighteningly responsible, awe-inspiringly hard-working and quite terrifyingly driven. Oh, and before anyone thinks she's perfect; no – she has a tongue like a viper and her stress levels are worrying to all who love her. (We're working on this – so don't you worry too.)

So when she kept putting off her RE project homework, there was obviously a problem – because this is the child who normally comes in from school and starts her homework straight away. The homework she has not already been able to do on the bus that is.

But I hadn't really picked up on the issue until Thursday night when she had an emotional meltdown – the kind actually appropriate to a thirteen year old - with weeping, wailing - but not actual gnashing of teeth because of her braces.

The problem was that she had been asked to research a different religion from her own (no problem there. She's good at that) and then to show that research not in an essay, not in a power-point presentation but in a colourful poster. She could write a 2000 word essay, she's a born speaker and presenter, but a poster? Art and Design? Panic!

Because my daughter believes firmly that she is not creative. So she was totally stuck and paralysed by this challenge.

"Silly girl!" I said fondly (inwardly rejoicing that for once I could actually be the adult around her because normally it's the other way round). Who in this family is really creative?

(Sniff) "You?"

"And who could you ask for help?"

(Snuffle) "You?" in a very small voice.

"Exactly. So if you dry your tears and wash your face, you can choose a religion, research it tomorrow night and on Saturday I'll help you design and create your poster."

So we did. I knew she was fine when she chose the Aztecs because of the human sacrifices, which meant that her slightly macabre sense of humour had reasserted itself.

It actually took the whole of the weekend, because she does things thoroughly and it meant the Christmas decorations are still not up. But we did create a colourful and informative poster – complete with blood splattered ritual human sacrifice images.

It was only after she'd gone off to catch the school bus clutching it firmly in her hand that I had my revelation. I too get paralysed by tasks I think are beyond my capabilities. Tasks I have no idea how to set about accomplishing. And then I get all stressed and worried by them.

When all I need to do is ask for some help.

In my experience, most people are flattered if you ask them for help. And they're more than willing to assist.

So let's get over ourselves. Let's admit we don't know everything and can't do everything and actually ask for help.

We'll be glad we did.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Barbara Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 5:45am

Paralysed by tasks I think are beyond my capabilities.
Next time I will ask, Who can I ask?
Even if that person is no longer here.
Thank you, Mary.
From yet another writer ... Seems there are so many of us on here.

LillyPet Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 6:19am

Yep I hear you Barbara. I look at the chaos and despair for all of a minute, then think "Oh well, it is what it is" and either ignore it, or start from one end then stop when I've had enough for one day. It's all down to me too.I'm sorry that the person that had been there isn't and undoubtedly cant be relaced, but I guess there are people out there who can help though, we just have to reach out and go for what we feel that we need to make us feel better. If we take the bull by the horns and go for it, we could change our lives. I know it's not easy, If it were easy, we wouldnt all be on here, but every single one of us is capable of surprising even of ourselves. I can see that I'm in a rambly mood today! Over and out! LP :) xx

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:27pm

Hello Barbara. I won't say that most writers are depressives, because I'm sure that's not true. Or even that most depressives are creative types. But what I can say with a fair amount of authority is that there does seem to be a fair amount of correlation between creativity and depression. I am sorry that the person you turned to for help is no longer there. But certainly this year I have found through networking and also social media, that there are many many people around who can contribute and love to contribute - but I have to take the risk and be vulnerable first.

LillyPet Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 6:00am

Morning Mary, what a wonderful blog and how beatifully painted! :)
I have a son like your daughter highly driven to succeed and achieve his dreams, mature beyond his years super cool and funny in a goofy way that would brighten anyones day. He is loved by all who know him, a wonderful ray of sunshine and my rock. Organised beyond belief, me and his sister to shame!
My daughter is a beautiful sensitive and compassionate soul, more academic than her brother, but so hard on herself and so modest, it's hard to convince her that she has done well. She's elegant and stunningly beautiful but so self critical. At 16 she doesnt know what direction to head in( like most of us!) and doesnt seem to be passionate about or particularly enjoy anything she could follow as a career. She quietly excells in subjects like philosphy, ethics and RE. So I am thrilled praise her when I hear on the grape vine that she got an A for her essay. Like a normal teenager she's one her phone constantly, up late sleeps in has a messy room and needs more than a little reminder to keep on top of things. I'm not worried, she'll be fine and things will work out for her in their own good time. She may channel her abilities to working for an ethical organisation, who knows. I'm just aware that her brother naturally gets so much positive feedback for being a superstar. I've resolved to be more positive with my daughter, praise her give her confidence and independence.
I havent always been able to hide the tears the stress, my chaotic and frantic efforts to keep on top of the essentials and all the demands of modern living. It is what it is though, we are who we are. I am enormously grateful for having had 2 such wonderful young people to nurture and as companions. They will have flown the nest at some point and I wont have their cheery distractions to brighten my days! Still on a a good day like today ( more gratitude!) I know I'll find plenty to cheer me!
I'm so glad you're in a good place Mary and long may it last :) xx
Sending wishes for rest, peace of mind and gentleness and a smile to all. (Hugs Debs!) LP xxx

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:29pm

Let's make sure your son and my daughter never meet - I don't think the world is ready for them if they start on it as a team! My second daughter sounds a lot more like your daughter. With the exception that she found her passion at about 5 years old and has never wavered. she wants to work with dogs and have a dog grooming business. She's more academic than her big sister, but nowhere near as driven to succeed. Maybe this is second child syndrome. (Which is not always observed - I know)

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:50pm

Hi Lillypet...did you manage to get to Sainsbugs? Ching Ching...hope your chrimbly mug has been in good use this morning! Bear x

danielle Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 3:38pm

I have my crimbo mug too today Bear! makes my tea taste even nicer :)

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 4:05pm

Ching Ching Danielle! Ching Ching! Just having another one now after a shopping expedition that Bears aren't keen mug has husky puppies pulling a sleigh of gifts and more puppies! Bear hugs with husky mugs x x x x

LillyPet Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 12:56am

It must be Mary! Strange how our kids are so similar, the idea of our eldests taking the world on made me smile! :) xx

LillyPet Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 1:15am

Hey Honey Bear! I made it to Sainsbury's today and got me a lovely Chrimbly mug a winter scene red on white. It s been tried and tested a d is all ready for the morrow! LP :) Xxx

LillyPet Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 9:39am

Hi Bearhugs! Yes I made it to Sainsbury's for my crimbly mug treat! Ching ching! :)) LP xx

LillyPet Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 9:46am

Great tip Danielle, my crimbly mug is red and white and has a winter scene on it, perfect for hibernation season! Nip out for crimbly provisions and scurry back to snugsville! Looking forward to my first group hug crimbly mug cuppa! :)) LP xx

danielle Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 12:40pm

They were a great find and in our sainsburys reduced to £2! loving my christmassy tea at my desk each day now :)

the room above the garage Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 6:21am

Thank you Mary, and I'm really glad you're picking up again (I think you said that yesterday?), that must be a relief! Morning LP and to all X.

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:30pm

So, so, so relieved and happy to be well again. Thank you.

danielle Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 3:38pm

excellent news Mary, and just in time for the festive period. i dont know if you are a fan of it or not, but all days are better when we are well :)

LillyPet Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 12:56am

Hey ratg! :) xxx

LillyPet Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 9:58am

Mary I hope that it's not too late for you to see this. I'm intreagued by what the transition to feeling well again looks like for people. Is it something you could share? So happy for you hun! LP xx

Hopeful One Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 8:00am

Hi Mary- great reminder to learn to accept that we cannot do everything and sometimes need help. I discovered that when I was cast in the role of a long term carer. I was quite surprised how people were willing to help if one asked them-nicely.

I know you love a laugh so here is one for today.

This married couple are going down the motorway, when a Traffic Officer pulls them over. The officer asks husband " May I see your license please " The husband says " I hope I have done nothing wrong." The Officer asks " Do you know the speed limit on our motorways?" The husband says "Yes, its 70 miles an hour." "Sir I caught you on my radar at 110 miles an hour - I'll have to issue you a ticket." The husband gets irate and claims that he wasn't speeding and the Officer should be out catching criminals instead of harassing law abiding citizens like him and his wife. The Officer is trying to reason with the husband when the wife leans over and looks at the Traffic officer and says "You'll have to excuse my husband, he always gets like this when he has been drinking"

Down the well Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 9:46am

Ha thank you for that HO,it made me smile ???? x

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:30pm


LillyPet Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 12:59am

Ha ha! That made me laugh! Love a good joke! Thanks HO.

Hannah Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 8:40am

What a wonderful post (and excellent timing)! I have been struggling with work and school this semester, with the neverending thought of "I'm going to fail, this is too much, how could I ever be so stupid as to think I could get through all this?" circling in my head. My schoolwork has taken the brunt of the beating, but I am blessed to have wonderful professors who are understanding and glad to reschedule deadlines.
It was only Monday when I met up with one such professor, who explained that he wouldn't accept my paper until it had about eight more pages because he didn't want to have to mark me down. Before I met up with him, this would have seemed a task of herculean proportions. Since having gone over where I could expand and clarify, it seems not only doable, it's already halfway complete.
I am incredibly thankful for having asked for help because it provided me peace of mind, and I like to think he is equally happy having helped his student succeed.
It's always lovely hearing other people's stories about these sorts of things because it's a great reminder that we aren't alone in our anxiety over failure (and that its such a great feeling being able to help). In short, thank you for writing such a well-timed piece; it was a great reminder that reaching out is both helpful and necessary. I always look forward to reading your posts and today was no different. :)

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:31pm

Hannah - I am so pleased your professor was able to help you and that you now feel the task is manageable. Also very happy that this post was well -timed. Glad to have helped.

danielle Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 3:42pm

Hi Hannah, you sound exactly like I was through school and university. I rarely failed an exam and when I was worried about said piece of work etc my mum would say 'when was the last time you failed a piece of work or exam' to which the answer would be 'never' so she would reply 'well would you stop worrying then youll be fine!!' (I know when suffering with anxiety its not as easy as just stop worrying) but try to trust that you can do well if you have done well before. if in fact you did fail last time then trust that you are putting in more work or seeking guidance to avoid it this time, I am sure you will do well as you seem v conscientious xxxx

Tim Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 9:42am

A lot of good help, and good writing per se,here lately.Thankss to a wonderful self-helping community, in the true sense

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:31pm

Thank you Tim. Nice to see you here.

Down the well Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 9:52am

Another wonderful blog, thank you Mary. I second what everyone else here has said already. I always enjoy reading your blogs Mary, beautifully written and always uplifting. I have been terrified of failure throughout my life, to the point it has really held me back. I've realised just how much only recreantly. This is something I plan to work on, along with self-compassion, I suspect the two go hand I hand. Lovely to read you folks writing about your children too, they sound like wonderful people. Love to you all x

Julia Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 10:00am

Ditto. Wonderful and beautifully written post Mary.

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:32pm

Ah (blushes) thanks, guys!

susan Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 10:33am

Thank you, Mary. Wise thought, beautifully presented. We are so quick to do whatever we can for people who ask us for help. So why is it so difficult to ask for ourselves? Probably many reasons. This is a very good reminder, especially as the busy season is on us and it's too easy to get frazzled. xx

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:32pm

Indeed - here's to not being frazzled; ask for help!

Anonymous Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 11:02am

Sage, as ever Mary. Thank you. Children can teach us so many things. But sometimes, as parents or teachers, we are unable to answer their pressing questions. A seasonal one posed recently by a young boy in class that might make you smile: 'How do angels get dressed?'. Hesitantly, I began 'yes, it must be difficult' and was immediately interrupted with a tirade about how angels feathers would be 'a-ruffled' backwards, if they tried to get dressed! I wonder whether you would have had a snappy answer? Go well.

Mary Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:34pm

Angels dress in light. They draw God's light around themselves and it appears to us as clothes.Because it is only light it just bends and wraps around their wings without so much as ruffling a feather. I hope that helps.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:41pm

Oh darn it, Mary...I thought they never got undressed so getting dressed was never a problem!

Anonymous Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 5:18pm

I knew you could help. Thanks again.

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 1:46pm

There is an article in The Daily Telegrub, in their Weekend section I think, where someone famous gives advice to their younger self....wouldn't it be great to have the knowledge and insight about such things that worry us, to be able to tell our self there is no need to worry and fret; that most things can and are overcome and often the biggest fear is fear itself?
Great blog Mary, Mary.
Bear x

danielle Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 3:43pm

some very wise words Bear xxx

danielle Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 3:46pm

Another lovely blog Mary, so wonderful that you could use one of your many talents to help your daughter. I am scared of a lot of things but I dont think I am scared of failing. I am always keen to learn something new and take the challenge of learning it, or meeting new people etc. I think I am not scared of failing as I really dont see any event as failure. If something hasnt gone to plan then there is always some good out of it, maybe you didnt get the grade on an exam, but you will have learnt something, maybe you didnt get the job you went for, but it is because a better job is waiting, and so on. There is learning and growth in every experience, even if at the time it seems hard and testing. I really believe that because I view experiences like this I am not scared of failing, it genuinely never enters my head. Maybe I am a bit gung ho! I am not without fears though before you all get jealous - afraid of many things, mainly death, losing people, anxiety taking over, injuring myself, etc. But we all have our weaknesses!xxxx

Bearofliddlebrain Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 4:09pm

Well said, are such a clever peeps...makes my heart sing to see what you have written here and am sure it will give much encouragement to others to not be afraid of things...esp Hannah :) Fear of losing loved ones or injuring yourself isn't a weakness...that's just love...weakness = too much choccit!! Love x

danielle Thu, Dec 17th 2015 @ 12:41pm

me too Bear I have a terrible sweet tooth! Although a wonderfully experienced cake conniousseur as a result ;) xxxx

The Gardener Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 6:22pm

What did I learn with the five of them? Patience? We did help with prep, where we could. I know now that our g-grand-daughter is given half-term projects which are impossible without major adult imput and time on computer. They still have major chips about not going to university, even this week-end, with a lovely visit from 4th child, daughter - at a party talking generally - about where grand-children were at university. I got many accusations of 'favouritism- of No 2 (only one to go to Uni at normal time). The 'favouritism' was by default, he was the only one we did not have to nag to work. With the others we were lucky that they turned up (would have cost a fortune in fines now). One was masterful in getting a mate to 'sign him in' and disappear for the day. He was notable, at one PTA meeting, when the physics master was so incensed that he threatened me with GBH for having given birth to him. This one has proved a born leader, organiser, a real Christian, will help anybody, and despite his own family problems is probably my greatest prop and pal.Four of them were not the least bit interested in Uni, but have born a life-long chip. Why? they are bright, successful in their field - perhaps the fact that I went at 50 and got a good BA and MA, leading to a fascinating retirement, has not helped. I learned that the house must never lack cakes. In my 30's I struck - I felt like a bird with too many nestlings. I went off as a 'temp' (awful insight into the low standard of British management) and hired a cook. She came in from 3.30 to 6.30, so the kids were never 'latch-key'. Often harked back to, Peggy had been a cook at the local tea rooms. Kids stuffed with loads of super cakes, and PROPER food, meat and several veg, and, always, puddy and cubby. Those were the days. I also learned shame - 2nd son, as homework (he was 11) had to note all he ate in the week-end and analyse the results. 6,000 calories per day - all carbs! Yet he was, and is, as thin as a rake. Prominent on his shelves - recipes for French tarts.

Lexi Wed, Dec 16th 2015 @ 6:59pm

Hi Mary! As I was reading your post today I thought "How wonderful it would have been to have had a mother who was sensitive and patient and understanding as Mary!" I spent YEARS berating myself for not being good/smart/fast/creative enough, beating myself up for the one thing I didn't know how to do (even though there were 1,000 of things I DID know how to do)...Unfortunately I had an unhappy, narcassistic mother who was there by my side, berating me too, especially whenever I had the nerve (gasp!) to ask her for help. I think both you and your daughter learned an amazing lesson today. How how lucky she is to have such a loving mother. Cheers to you both!

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